Acts 2: 1-21: a Dramatic Reading for Pentecost

The dramatic reading on these pages was prepared by Ervina Boeve, professor of Speech at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Conference on Liturgy and Music at Calvin Seminary, August 1985. Professor Boeve has also included some directors notes for those interested in rehearsing the reading and using it as part of worship on Pentecost Sunday.

1st Narrator
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

2nd Narrator
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked:

1st Voice
Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?

2nd Voice
Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

3rd Voice
Parthians,

4th Voice
Medes,

5th Voice
Elamites;

6th Voice
residents of Mesopotamia,

7th Voice
Judea,

8th Voice
and Cappadocia;

9th Voice
Pontus

10th Voice
and Asia,

11th Voice
Phrygia

12th Voice
and Pamphylia,

13 th Voice
Egypt

14th Voice
and the parts of Libya near Cyrene;

15th Voice
visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism);

16th Voice
Cretans

17th Voice
and Arabs—

18th Voice
we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!

2nd Narrator
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another,

All
What does this mean?

1st Narrator
Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

2nd Narrator
Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd:

Peter
Fellow Jews and all of you who are in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by God through the prophet Joel:

Joel
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

Excerpt
Director's Notes
  1. The reader must understand the material. This includes not only the words, but also the ideas. Before reading each reader should ask:
    a. Where are we?
    b. Who is speaking?
    c. Why is he/she speaking?
    d. What is he/she really saying?
  2. Animation is absolutely necessary. Remember this is an excited crowd. This does not necessarily mean that rate of speech is increased but that the emotional overtones of this dynamic event are relayed.
  3. 3. Watch punctuation carefully.
    a. A period receives the longest pause, a comma less, a semicolon a bit more, etc.
    b. Punctuation clarifies meaning and provides variety in the rate of reading.
    "Parthians,
    Medes,
    Elamites;
    residents of Mesopotamia,
    Judea,
    and Cappadocia";
  4. If a choir is being used, divide material among an interesting variety of voices—alto, bass, tenor, soprano, bass, alto, etc. If a speaking choir is being formed, think of selecting voices of different pitch, volume (heavy, light), quality (mellow, strident).
  5. 5. Remember the group is to function as one reader. Do not allow any reader to break the continuity of the narrative by vocally putting the final period on the selection until the very end.